girl's best-seller reveals life behind the till
Paris, Feb 15 (DPA) Everyone bar a saint can recall being
curt with a supermarket checkout girl at some point, but after
reading a new best-selling book in France, many a customer
might think twice about being unfriendly to the woman behind
In her book "Les tribulations d'une caissi..re"
(The Trials of a Checkout Girl) Anna Sam, 28, dissects typical
supermarket users, including many familiar types. Her critical
eye registers the notorious moaners and the bargain hunters
along with the shop-until-you-drop types and of course, the
pleasant customers who do mind their manners.
The book has already sold 100,000 copies in France and is
set to be published in English later this year.
Since the hilarious memoir appeared in France, the number
of people being self-consciously friendly and polite at the
cash till has apparently increased. "I get lots of e-mails
and letters from customers who thank me for having opened
their eyes to what it is like," said Sam.
Sam's 170-page book is aimed at potentially bad-tempered or
impatient shoppers and she hopes that these will refrain in
future from asking such inane questions as "Are you open?"
to which the answer can only be: "I'm not, but the cash
After finishing the book, famished customers who tuck into
a tuna fish and mayonnaise sandwich before paying for it might
think twice: "He munched his sandwich loudly, and with
his mouth wedged so wide open that there was no need to read
the list of ingredients on the wrapper," reads one passage
in the book.
Sam worked part-time for eight years as a cashier at a large
supermarket in the town of Rennes. The "stint" was
initially intended to finance her literature studies. However,
she could not find a better job on graduating: "And so
I ended up becoming what is often referred to these days as
a 'till-based customer service assistant'," she comments
drily at the start of her book.
Anna Sam dealt with around 300 customers a day, said "thank
you" roughly 500 times a day and scanned between 700
and 800 items an hour. She also lifted 800 kilos worth of
goods per hour.
Using the pseudonym of Miss Pastouche, Sam began documenting
her experiences anonymously in an Internet blog in April 2007.
She advanced to become France's best-known supermarket cashier
and a spokeswoman for fellow sufferers. So what inspired her
"I noticed that checkout staff had a strong urge to communicate
with each other and since I'm able to express myself better
through writing better than I can through talking, I came
up with the idea for a blog," said Sam.
Success was not long in coming - The French-language blog
http://caissierenofutur.over-blog.com/ has been clicked on
more than a million times and has attracted thousands of contributors.
Today, it is a cult website in France.
The collection of anecdotes and customer experiences by the
young writer was soon a best-seller and a second book is being
prepared since "there is so much more to say about working
in a supermarket", says the author.
Despite the wit, the book conveys a serious message about
how customers treat other people, even if one or two of the
examples quoted seem a little forced and banal - such as when
Sam observes: "I assume the bargain-hunter was a good
cook - for how could she otherwise combine tinned sardines,
cheese-flavoured chips, coffee and tomato sauce? That kind
of culinary balancing act is not easy."
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